David J. Thompson

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A Game He Doesn’t Understand

He can’t find an empty seat at the bar
until the guys playing at the other end
of the pub finish their set with that songArtwork by Gene McCormick
about the belle of Belfast city just like
the night before. Finally, he says to himself,
puts his empty glass down, takes off
his denim jacket and spreads it out
over the stool. He notices for the first time
how frayed it is at the cuffs and the collar.
Damn, he thinks. I didn’t know how bad it was.
He orders another pint of stout, wonders
what he might do to keep it from getting any worse,
remembers that it was his old girl friend Katie
who gave him that jacket for Valentine’s Day
fifteen, no closer to twenty, years ago. He watches
the Guinness settle in front of him, but all he sees
is her, and how she always wore men’s pyjamas
to bed and how that just about killed him.
He takes a few swallows of beer, realizes
he has no idea where she is today, only
that a few weeks later she surprised him
with a card taped to his apartment door 
about an old boyfriend who deserved
another chance and not to try to get in touch.
He’s thinking how much that sucked,
how pissed off he was, when, suddenly,
a cheer erupts all around him. Startled,
he looks up and sees it’s a rugby match
on tv, burly guys in green jerseys celebrating
a score of some sort.  He tries to watch
for a few minutes hoping to figure it out,
but it’s a game he doesn’t understand,
so he goes back to his Guinness, wondering why
unbuttoning her pajamas couldn’t have lasted forever.

David J. Thompson is a former prep school teacher and coach who has been traveling since October 2013. His latest photo/poetry chapbook, And Thou Upon Earth, is available from Nerve Cowboy in Austin, Texas. Please visit his photo website at ninemilephoto.com.